But back to Little Women...
Poor Jo. Her little Beth has left her and she promised to be good and to be a comfort to her parents, but it's a difficult thing for Jo.
"...these were dark days to her, for something like despair came over her when she thought of spending all her life in that quiet house, devoted to humdrum cares, a few small pleasures, and the duty that never seemed to grow any easier. "I can't do it. I wasn't meant for a life like this, and I know I shall break away and do something desperate if somebody doesn't come and help me," she said to herself, when her first efforts failed and she fell into the moody, miserable state of mind which often comes when strong wills have to yield to the inevitable."But she found comfort in talking with her father and mother and, eventually, Jo found pleasure in doing the same things and humming the same songs as Beth, and through her actions she, and the rest of her family, were able to remember Beth a little better.
Also, Jo took to spending time with Meg and she noticed "how much improved her sister Meg was, how well she could talk, how much she knew about good, womanly impulses, thoughts, and feelings, how happy she was in husband and children, and how much they were all doing for each other." Leading her to conclude that "Marriage is an excellent thing, after all" and to wonder "if I should blossom out half as well as you have, if I tried it?"
Here we see clearly that a change has come upon our Jo; she has "enjoy [her] liberty" until she has decided to try something else, and now (I feel) she is in a much better place to consider getting married (which from her elated reaction to that letter from her "dear old Fritz" seems might not be too far distant).
Laurie and Amy surprise everyone and come home married. The newlyweds are very happy and the family is even happier to see them. I'm very glad that Jo and Laurie were able to come to an agreement that they are better off as being more like brother and sister and were content with the arrangement. That's a rough transition, and isn't always the result (in real life) but here, it's definitely the best way that a happy ending could be achieved, and I've always suspected that this book would end with a very neat and happy finish :)
I enjoyed reading about the evening that Mr. Bhaer spent with the March family; funny how everyone but Jo suspects that something more than just friendship looms in her future with him.
In this chapter we get a glimpse into the new relationship between Laurie and Amy. I liked their banter and the energy that they bring out in each other. And I laughed out loud at Amy's comment to Laurie: "your nose is such a comfort to me". It seems they are very happy. Though, my heart gave a little twinge when Amy asked Laurie "Shall you care if Jo does marry Mr. Bhaer?" Imagine getting married, and having a lingering doubt that your husband might love your sister.. But Laurie, the good man that he is, had already searched his own heart before making the marriage vow and was able to honestly reply: "Oh, that's the trouble is it? I thought there was something in the dimple that didn't quite suit you. Not being a dog in the manger, but the happiest fellow alive, I assure you I can dance at Jo's wedding with a heart as light as my heels." and with that his lovely wife's fears vanished and their love was even more cemented and they went on to plot how to help the "Old Professor" without giving insult with their well-meant charity.
It seems our little Amy and Lazy Laurie have grown into thoughtful and caring adults. It's cool.